While there aren’t many dancefloors open these days, this DJ is keeping the beat alive online with original songs and re-imagined classics. Breaking free of his Pentecostal childhood to make beautiful music in the world of queer nightlife, it’s the fabulous Brett Oosterhaus!
Thotyssey: Hey there Brett! So first off… the RNC began Monday night, and as predicted it was off the rails with fiery screaming and cultish propaganda. Did you dare watch any of it?
Brett Oosterhaus: Hell no! I have no desire to listen to people spout lie after lie. I grew up in a Republican household, and voted that way early on in my life. Then I started to pay attention to what their policies actually stood for, and realized I didn’t believe the same things. But to be fair, this is not the Republican Party I grew up with. This is a cult of personality, and I have zero interest in anything they have to say.
I saw what you recently posted regarding Jerry Falwell Jr.’s exposed hypocrisy, and how you were raised under the influence of so many men like that who did a lot of preaching but very little practicing. Tell us a bit, please, about where and how you grew up.
Sure. I grew up in San Diego. My father and grandfather were both pastors in the Assembly of God, a super conservative Pentecostal, evangelical denomination of Protestant Christianity. My entire life revolved around church. I was in church or youth group three times a week, read the Bible daily, went to a Christian college for undergrad, and did my Master’s in Biblical studies. My entire identity was built on the things I learned in Church, and what I considered to be the ultimate truth: that Jesus Christ was the only way to heaven.
The struggle came when I found myself being attracted to men. In high school, I would have dreams of kissing boys and wake up in tears, begging God to take the gay away. This continued all through college and grad school, until finally I realized that this was something that was a part of me. I had to accept that if I truly believed that God created me, he created me as a man who was attracted to men and he loved me just the way I am.
What eventually put you on the path to being a queer DJ?
After I came out, I moved to West Hollywood and began to work in nightlife, went out often and became friends with a number of the local DJs. It wasn’t until I went to White Party Palm Springs for the first time, that I realized there was a whole world out there that revolved around other gay men who loved to come together to dance and just escape the outside world for a few days.
I never really thought about DJing, until my dear friend Andrew Briskin, who managed a bunch of big name DJs, encouraged me to explore DJing. He saw how passionate I was about house music, and he gave me the push I needed to put my energy into it.
Do you have favorite artists or genres to spin?
I love all the divas. If there’s a big female voice on the track, I’m into it, and I’ll play it. I love every genre of house music, but as far as “My Sound” I would call it Big Room. My friend describes my style as NYC Big Room meets Tel Aviv; I’d say that’s pretty accurate.
And now you’re here in NYC.
I’m here. It’s definitely an interesting time to be a New Yorker, but I love it here. It was a dream to live here, and become a real NYC DJ. No matter what happens, I’ll always consider NYC my home.
“New York is dead forever!” Lol, can you believe the audacity of some bitches?
Yeah, it’s crazy. But at the same time, our gay nightlife and the people who work in it are in dire straits. I live in Hell’s Kitchen, and we’ve already had four gay bars close. My boyfriend is one of the owners of Rise Bar, and he is doing everything he can to make sure we make it through the pandemic… but the government has done nothing to help. Especially [Mayor] De Blasio… he’s the worst. He doesn’t give a fuck about us.
That being said, New Yorkers are resilient. I don’t think you can live here for more than a year, if you don’t have the toughness to make it through some shit.
What have been some of your favorite DJ moments as far as past parties, cities and venues go?
So far, my favorite moment has to be playing Stage 48 for NYC World Pride! I’ve played almost every party John Blair and Jake Resnicow have produced (MEAT, UNITE, Vers, POWERVers) but when they asked me to play Stage for World Pride, I felt a different kind of Pride. That was an incredible honor I’ll never forget.
I’ve played WPPS a couple times, which is always amazing. I love playing Fire Island and PTown every summer. There’s so much history in those places. You can feel the generations of people who came before you, when you play those venues. But honestly, I have such an appreciation for DJing, I could play in someone’s back yard and have an incredible time. It’s a blessing to do this for a living!
You’re also a prolific producer and remixer, with a very popular SoundCloud. Congrats on the recent success of your remix of Katy Perry’s “Walking On Air!”
Thank you! Yeah, I’m really proud of my growth as a producer and remixer. It’s something I’ve really put my time, energy and heart into, and it’s gratifying to see people respond to it.
When you remix something, do you hear the beat and texture you want in your head right away on first hearing the original song, or do you usually have to tinker with it a lot first?
Each song is a different animal. Some songs feel like they produce themselves. I can hear the remix in my head before I even begin. Others are more of a process. I have some remixes that I’ve been working on forever… but I’m not happy with them yet, so they sit there.
That also goes for originals. My new song coming out on September 5th, called “Love So Hard” with Kalia Medeiros, pretty much wrote itself; it just came pouring out. But I have a couple other originals that have taken much longer to get to a place where I would be comfortable releasing them.
How have you generally come to know the vocalists you collaborate with?
Kalia Medeiros, I met her through her brother. She is just a cool girl who happens to have an incredible voice. We totally vibe, and it’s so easy to work together.
And I’ve done two songs with the awesome Debby Holiday. I met her through Andrew Briskin, and we became wonderful friends. She is a such a light in this world. I was almost shocked when she agreed to work with me the first time, LOL! I mean, the woman has something like 15 top 20 Billboard hits, and I had none at the time. But she believed in me, and our last song, “Living For The Music,” made it to #11 on Billboard… and then Ms. Rona hit. We’re writing another song together right now, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it!
Amazing! Is there anything else coming up for you?
As far as gigs, we’ll have to ask Ms. Rona about that! But September 5th is my next single. I have five other originals right now that are finished, and waiting their turn to be released. And I’m always releasing new remixes on my Soundcloud, so follow me there and you’ll be the first to hear them.
Excellent! To close, what was your favorite song this summer?
I’m gonna sound like such a basic gay, but I really loved Chromatica. That whole album was Summer 2020 for me!
Agreed! Thank you, Brett!